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High School Janitor Sets Up Giving Closet to Help Students in Need

High school custodian Carolyn Collins was about to take out the trash in the early morning darkness when she heard a loud knock on the cafeteria door. She set down her garbage can and cracked the door. Two students—a boy and a girl—looked at her nervously. “Can we please come in?” asked the boy, even though school didn’t start for two more hours. “Me and my sister are getting tired of waiting outside.”

They said they’d been living in a car with their mother, who had dropped them off early so they could get ready for school in one of the restrooms. Collins felt her eyes fill with hot tears. The teens were hungry, so she hustled up some fruit, milk, and cereal.

That was four years ago, the day she hatched a plan for a school “giving closet”—food, clothing, shoes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and more—all free to any student at her school, Tucker High, about 25 miles from Atlanta. Collins vowed to do whatever she could to help these kids. She told The Washington Post, “High school is hard enough without being homeless.”

Collins immediately spent $200 of her own money on snacks, toiletries, socks, underwear, notebooks. and pencils. The she told administrators her plan and asked for some space at the school. After cleaning an old storage room near the cafeteria, Collins’s giving closet was up and running.

Since 2014, any of the school’s 1,800 students who are in need of items such as food, soap, school supplies, book bags, clothes—even prom wear—will quietly mention it to Collins and she’ll open the closet. They can take what they need. Her school’s principal said, “She has such a giving heart, she’s a beacon of light for every kid in need.”


Cathy Free, “This school janitor has quietly been giving homeless students clothes, soap and more from her ‘giving closet’”, The Washington Post (9-4-18)

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